Getting the results you desire from your copier/printer can be a frustration organizations, especially design firms, advertising agencies and print shops, experience. One of the most common questions we hear is, “Why doesn’t what I printed match what I see on my screen?” Here are a few reasons this mismatch occurs:
How Paper Type Affects Results
One of the causes that may affect your printing results can be paper type. A wide variety of paper types exist – weight and finish are two examples. How your document prints will be slightly altered based on the paper you choose. This has to do with how each type of paper absorbs toner.
There are four primary types of paper, each with multiple weights available:
In addition to type and weight, your paper could have a coated or uncoated, matte or glossy finish. These combinations are numerous. We recommend testing by printing your document on a few different paper types, weights and finishes to compare your printed results to what you see on your screen. Then choose which paper type best reflects your desired result.
Planning Your Final Document
Before designing your document, ask yourself these important questions:
- Can my copier/printer reproduce the colors I require?
- If my document is duplexed, how accurate does the front to back registration need to be?
- How will my large areas of solid colors or gradations reproduce on the printer?
- Does the printer offer accurate Pantone color representation?
- What additional finishing features are available on the printer?
Determine the capabilities of your color copier/printer and plan your document accordingly. For example, if your color copier/printer doesn’t accurately produce gradations, try to leave them out of your design. This will save you a lot of frustration when you are printing your finished document.
One of the main differences between printed material and what you see on your screen is the color selection being viewed. Computer monitors display in RGB while printers work in CMYK. With that being said, a lot of color printing problems can be resolved using these design process tips.
If the document is going to remain electronic, then you should work in an RGB color selection. If you plan to print your document, work in CMYK; remember that when it is printed, what you see will not directly match what you print because of the way computer monitors display documents.
Here is a list of common software programs and the color selections they have available for you to work in:
- Microsoft Word/Excel/PowerPoint: RGB, CMYK (on Mac’s only) and HSL
- Corel WordPerfect: RGB, Pantone, Other
- Corel Draw!: RGB, Pantone, Pantone, Many Others
- Adobe Photoshop: RGB, CMYK, Pantone, Many Others
- Adobe Illustrator: RGB, CMYK, Pantone, Many Others
- Adobe InDesign: RGB, CMYK, Pantone, Many Others
- Adobe Acrobat: RGB, CMYK, Pantone, Many Others
- Quark Express: RGB, CMYK, Pantone, Many Others
- AutoCad: RGB, Pantone, Custom Palette
- FrontPage: RGB, HSL
- DreamWeaver: RGB, HSL
Design Application Printer Preferences
Additionally, printers can be optimized to provide higher quality results when printing from a specific application. If, for example, your office mainly prints PDF files, your print provider can adjust certain settings on your color copier/printer that affect the results you receive. For this reason, you should implement a standard printing protocol, instructing users to print from the application your printer is optimized for.
Being aware of these issues allow you to account for the differences you may see in your printed documents and proceed accordingly. If you are unsure how to address these issues, talk to your print provider. If you are unsure what is causing your poor printing results, request a free print technology assessment to help you determine an effective solution.